Complex Sentences


A simple sentence must have a subject and a predicate, which means that it must contain a noun and a verb. It is also important that it be a complete thought. A sentence can have more than one subject and more than one predicate, like in this sentence, “Julia and her friend swam and played in the pool.”

If you see one of these words — if, after, when, because, while, before, as, although — you might be reading a complex sentence. A complex sentence has one independent clause, which means it could stand on its own as a complete sentence. It also has one or more dependent clauses, which means the independent clause is necessary to make a complete sentence. Here are some examples:

  • If I don’t pass this test, I won’t get an A in the course.
  • Although I love chocolate, I picked lemon cake for my birthday.
  • When I grow up, I want to be a veterinarian.

If I don’t pass the test, is not a complete sentence on its own. It needs, I won’t get an A in the course, in order to be a complete thought and a complete sentence. The same rule applies to the other examples above.

Time4Writing provides practice in this area. View a sample resource from our Elementary Paragraphs course or browse other related courses.